As high school football season nears, local quarterbacks were granted the opportunity to stretch out their arms and wide receivers had the chance to sharpen their pass-catching and route-running abilities during the Calhoun FCA 7-on-7 Passing Camp on Wednesday and Thursday at the Calhoun River Soccer complex.

Passing camps have become a staple of the high school football offseason, and serve as a signal that preparation is rapidly gearing up ahead of regular season practice. The 7-on-7 format involves timed, non-contact scrimmages that feature a team’s signal-callers and skill players squaring off against an opposing team’s defensive secondary.

The Calhoun FCA 7-on-7 Passing Camp was hosted by the Yellow Jackets, with the Sonoraville Phoenix also strapping on helmets to get some valuable offensive and defensive reps. Squads from Model, Fannin County, Chattooga, Woodland, Adairsville, Gilmer County and Darlington were also present to partake in the action.

Calhoun head coach Hal Lamb said he was pleased with his team’s overall performance during the camp, and welcomed the opportunity for some of his players to line up against live competition.

“I think we’ve had a very productive two days, and I have really liked what I have seen from some of our guys on both sides of the ball,” Lamb said. “Anytime you can get together and try a few things out against other offenses and defenses, it’s a huge help.”

First-year Sonoraville head coach Denver Pate said he was proud of the strides his team made during the camp. He noted that his team displayed resiliency and growth during the experience.

“I was happy to see them out here competing against other teams and pushing through the heat,” Pate said. “We’re expecting some of our younger players to step up and contribute for us this season, so this went a long way in raising the expectations for those guys.”

The camp came to a close with former Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers running back Ronnie Brown sharing a few words of wisdom with all the players and coaches.

Brown, who also had stellar careers at Cartersville High School and Auburn University, discussed his personal Christian testimony and what he learned from his own journey through many different levels of football.

“You can always rise above your circumstances, and your circumstances don’t have to be your situation,” Brown said. “You have to set a goal, and you have to realize that every decision you make should be getting you closer to that goal.”

The next step in the offseason for the Jackets involves two additional days of summer workouts before a couple off-days next week to recuperate and recharge. July 25 marks the first day of official, mandatory practice.

“When July 25 rolls around, it’s a full-go,” Lamb said. “We are about to really ramp things up because the regular season is right around the corner.”

Going forward for the Phoenix, Pate said he wants the team to continue focusing on increasing their physical capabilities as their play-making abilities grow.

“Our primary goal this offseason was to get stronger and improve upon our agility, speed and burst, so we will continue hitting the weight room as practice approaches,” Pate said. “It’s going to take time, but I’m happy with our progress, and I am confident we are headed in the right direction.”

Sonoraville will spend the next week testing and measuring weightlifting maxes and running times before beginning official, mandatory practice the following week.